As the car weaves through picturesque Asheville, North Carolina—a former sleepy retreat for turn-of-the-century aristocrats that’s now bustling with microbreweries and artists—the meandering two-lane road inclines up the lush, tree-lined Sunset Mountain. Glimpses of an expansive red-tile roof enter and exit the view as you wind up the peak.
Then, like a time-travel machine, you arrive at the century-old, five-story entrance still strutting its legendary Carolina stone facade and awe-inspiring terracotta-hued roof. Two-story mammoth fireplaces hold court at both ends of the great hall lobby, which is filled with cozy seating nooks, rocking chairs in front of the hearths and, of course, sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and downtown Asheville skyline through western-facing windows.
It’s easy to see why 10 presidents have checked into the revered retreat.
While only three hours north of Atlanta, the air is cooler and lighter, with that je ne sais quoi that lured Edwin Wiley Grove more than a century ago. Grove, like many people of wealth during the Industrial Revolution, was prescribed “clean mountain air” in Asheville. The doctor’s orders left a lasting impression on the multimillionaire, and Grove set forth to construct a luxury retreat to lure the leisure class. On July 12, 1913, the Grove Park Inn opened for business.
For the past 103 years, the historic hotel has hosted inventors (Thomas Edison), business titans (Henry Ford), writers (F. Scott Fitzgerald) and presidents (most recently, Barack Obama). The admired lodge is also reported to be the substitute venue of the United States Supreme Court if Washington, D.C., is ever compromised in a nuclear attack.
Originally a 156 150-room inn, today the treasured hideaway has five restaurants, four bars, and 513 guest rooms. All new additions were designed to retain the legendary views.
In 2001, the resort added a $43 million subterranean spa that often ranks among the best in the world. Guests who use spa services—like collagen-enriched facials, aromatherapy massages and mountain-honey body wraps—have access to the private (and child-free) 43,000-square-foot facility boasting two therapeutic waterfall pools, eucalyptus-infused steam rooms, lounge pools and plenty of peace and quiet.
More-active guests may hit the links on the hotel’s 6,400-yard championship golf course; hit some tennis balls on one of its six indoor and outdoor hard courts; or enjoy the 50,000-square-foot sports complex, featuring an indoor pool, a racquetball court and a fitness center.
Offering world-class amenities for the 21st-century traveler, The Omni Grove Park Inn continues to grow with the future while preserving its historic foundation. As you exit the stone-covered courtyard, rest assured that the age-defying inn will leave the light on for the next visit, as its legacy is just getting started.